Transmission Corridor Designation and Implementation of Senate Bill 1059
Order Instituting Rulemaking - Docket # 07-OIR-1




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California Code of Regulations, Title 20. Public Utilities and Energy
Includes Electric Transmission Corridor Designation Regulations.
Publication number CEC-140-2008-001-REV1. (Acrobat PDF file, 538 pages, 1.65 MB, Published August, 2008.)

Below are the relevant sections under Title 20 of the California Codes of Regulations, that relate to Designation of Transmission Corridor Zones and contained in the document above. They are current as of August 2008:

Chapter 6 (Sections 2320-2340)
Chapter 6, Appendix A

 

Background

With the passage of Senate Bill 1059 (SB 1059, Escutia and Morrow, Chapter 638, Statutes of 2006), California is continuing to develop an integrated, statewide approach to electric transmission planning and permitting to address the state's critical energy and environmental policy goals. Regarding SB 1059, the Legislature found and declared that:

  • California currently lacks an integrated, statewide approach to electric transmission planning and permitting that addresses the state's critical energy and environmental policy goals.
  • Planning for and establishing a high-voltage transmission system is vital to the future economic and social well-being of California.
  • It is in the interest of the state to identify the long-term needs for electrical transmission corridor zones within the state.
  • It is in the interest of the state to integrate transmission corridor zone planning at the state level with local planning.

SB 1059 provides a bridge between the transmission planning process and the permitting process by designating transmission corridor zones (transmission corridors) on state and private lands available for future high-voltage electricity transmission projects, consistent with the state's electricity needs identified in the biennial Integrated Energy Policy Report (Energy Report) and Strategic Transmission Investment Plan (Strategic Plan).

SB 1059 enables local governments, utilities, energy developers, public interest groups, California Native American tribal governments, affected land owners, and members of the public to participate in the corridor designation process by commenting on the suitability of any proposed transmission corridor with respect to environmental, public health and safety, land use, economic, and transmission system impacts or other factors in which they may have expertise and/or interests.

Transmission corridor planning and preservation can help prevent costly permitting delays, ensure that optimal routes are used to reduce environmental impacts, avoid or mitigate land use conflicts, consider possible alternatives to meet project reliability or economic goals, and ensure that corridors are available when needed. Within a designated transmission corridor, proponents will have greater certainty that projects meeting state objectives and public interests can be permitted in a timely manner.


Coordinating Corridor Designation at the State Level with Statewide Strategic Transmission Planning and Federal Energy Corridor Designations

Public Resources Code section 25324 requires the Energy Commission (Commission), as part of the Energy Report, to develop and adopt a Strategic Plan for electricity transmission that identifies and recommends actions needed to ensure reliability, relieve congestion, and meet future load growth in electricity load and generation.

SB 1059 authorizes the Commission to designate suitable transmission corridors for high-voltage electric transmission lines to ensure reliable and efficient electricity delivery. The designation of a transmission corridor could be proposed by the Commission or by application to the Commission from any person or entity planning to build an electric transmission line in California (Pub. Resources Code § 25331(a)). The designation of a transmission corridor is subject to the California Environmental Quality Act, and SB 1059 identifies the Commission as the lead agency responsible for preparing an environmental assessment for all transmission corridors proposed for designation (Pub. Resources Code § 25332).

In the biennial Energy Report process, the Commission will identify future point-to- point transmission corridor needs and determine whether there is a long-term need to designate a transmission corridor to meet state policy objectives and ensure the future reliability of the electricity system. The Commission will then work with affected stakeholders, including cities and counties, state agencies, federal agencies, and California Native American tribes to identify appropriate areas within their jurisdictions that could be suitable for a transmission corridor zone (Pub. Resources Code § 25333(a)). Resulting corridor recommendations would be included in the Strategic Plan developed as part of the Energy Report.


The SB 1059 Corridor Designation Process

Upon adoption of the Energy Report and Strategic Plan, the Commission can by its own motion, or by application of persons or entities planning to construct a high-voltage transmission line, apply for the designation of a transmission corridor consistent with the state's needs and objectives as identified in the Strategic Plan (Pub. Resources Code § 25331(a)). With the filing of an application, the Commission is required to publish a summary of the application in a newspaper of general circulation in each county where the transmission corridor is proposed and notify all property owners within or adjacent to the proposed transmission corridor (Pub. Resources Code § 25334(a)). The Commission is also required to provide a copy of the application to all cities, counties, and state and federal agencies having an interest in the proposed transmission corridor, publish the application on its website, and notify the public that the application is available (Pub. Resources Code § 25334(a)). Thereafter the Commission is required to notify, solicit information from, and confer with cities, counties, state and federal agencies, and California Native American Tribes in whose jurisdiction the transmission corridor is proposed, regarding their land use plans, existing land uses, and other factors in which they have expertise or interest, and provide ample opportunity to them, as well as property owners and other members of the public, to participate in the review of the proposed transmission corridor (Pub. Resources Code § 25334(b)). The Commission is also required to solicit comments from stakeholders on the suitability of the proposed transmission corridor with respect to environmental, public health and safety, land use, economic, transmission system impacts and other factors (Pub. Resources Code § 25334(c)).

Within 45 days of receiving an application, the Commission is required to hold informational hearings in the county or counties where the proposed transmission corridor would be located (Pub. Resources Code § 25335), and within 155 days of the final informational hearing conduct a prehearing conference (Pub. Resources Code § 25336). After the conclusion of these hearings, but no later than 180 days after certification of the Environmental Impact Report, the Commission is required to issue a proposed decision on designation of the transmission corridor (Pub. Resources Code § 25337). After the designation of a transmission corridor, the Commission is required to publish the decision on its website and send a copy of the decision to each affected city, county, and state and federal agency, and notify property owners within or adjacent to the corridor zone (Pub. Resources Code § 25338).

The Commission is required to identify designated transmission corridors in subsequent Strategic Plans, and to thereafter regularly review and revise designated corridors as necessary, but not less than once every 10 years (Pub. Resources Code § 25339). If upon subsequent review the Commission finds a transmission corridor is no longer necessary, it is required to revise or repeal the designation and notify affected cities, counties, state and federal agencies, and property owners within or adjacent to the corridor zone (Pub. Resources Code § 25339).


Local Government Responsibilities for Ensuring Designated Corridors Remain Viable

After receiving notice from the commission regarding the designation or revision of a transmission corridor zone within its jurisdiction, each city or county shall consider the designated transmission corridor zone when making a determination regarding a land use change within or adjacent to the transmission corridor zone that could affect its continuing viability to accommodate a transmission line planned within the transmission corridor zone. Nothing in this section shall preclude compatible uses within or adjacent to a designated transmission corridor zone (Pub. Resources Code § 25340).

Within 10 days of accepting a complete land use development application (pursuant to Section 65943 of the Government Code) for a project that a city or county determines would threaten the potential to construct a high-voltage electric transmission line, cities and counties are required to notify the Commission of the proposed project, provide a copy of the development application, and allow the Commission up to 60 days to provide written comments regarding the proposed project (Pub. Resources Code § 25341(a)). In its written comments, the Commission is required to recommend revisions to, redesign of, or mitigation measures for the proposed project that would eliminate or reduce threats to the transmission corridor that could limit its future use (Pub. Resources Code § 25341(b)). Cities and counties are required to consider the Commission's comments prior to acting on the proposed development project. If the Commission objects to the project, a city or county is required to provide a detailed written response as to why it did not accept the Commission's comments and recommendations (Pub. Resources Code § 25341(c)).


Energy Corridor Designation at the Federal Level

Section 368 of the Federal Energy Policy Act of 2005 directs the Secretaries of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Energy, and the Interior to designate under their respective authorities corridors on federal land in the 11 western states for energy facilities, including transmission lines.

At the request of the California Resources Agency, the Commission began working as a cooperating agency with the federal agencies involved in implementing the requirements of Section 368. The Commission has helped coordinate the activities of a federal/state interagency working group, and provided information for consideration in the designation of energy corridors on federal lands in California. Going forward, one of the challenges in transmission planning within California will be to coordinate the results of the work from the Federal government's corridor designation process with the state's new transmission corridor designation authority.

More information about the Energy Commission's participation in the West-Wide Energy Corridor Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement can be found at www.energy.ca.gov/corridor/.




For more information, please contact:

Roger Johnson
California Energy Commission, MS-46
1516 Ninth Street
Sacramento, CA 95814-5504
916-654-5100
rjohnson @ energy.state.ca.us

Members of the news media, please contact: Media and Public Communications Office at 916-654-4989.